Oman is a fabulous country with plenty of things to see, such as natural wonders including beaches, wadis, fjords, waterfalls, dunes, deserts, mountains and canyons. Besides nature, visiting historical forts, ancient cities and seeing fantastic architecture are other things to do in Oman.
- 1 Oman Travel Guide
- 1.1 Best time to Visit
- 1.2 Facts about Oman
- 1.3 20 Things To Do In Oman
- 1.3.1 1- Be Mesmerised By the Scent of Frankincense at Muscat’s Mutrah Souq
- 1.3.2 2- Soak in Bimah Sinkhole or Ayn A’Thowarah Springs
- 1.3.3 3- Enjoy a dhow cruise to the Fjords of Musandam
- 1.3.4 4- Enjoy the lush green scenery at Salalah, the Queen of the South
- 1.3.5 5- Watch Baby Turtles Hatch
- 1.3.6 6- Take A Walk In A Lush Valley
- 1.3.7 7- Enjoy The Contrast Of Greenery And Desert At Jabal Samhan
- 1.3.8 8- Be Mesmerised by a Grand Masterpiece of Arabian Architecture
- 1.3.9 9- Explore A Fort
- 1.3.10 10- Visit Jabreen Castle
- 1.3.11 11- Take Dip In A Hot Springs Or Blue Pool
- 1.3.12 12- Explore A Wadi
- 1.3.13 13- Eat like an Omani Local
- 1.3.14 14- Enjoy the Opera On A Night Tour Of Muscat
- 1.3.15 15- Ride A Sand Bike On The Dunes
- 1.3.16 16- Watch The Sunset Over The Jabal Akhdar Mountain
- 1.3.17 17- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Bahla Fort
- 1.3.18 18- See The Night Sky Camping In The World’s Second-Largest Desert
- 1.3.19 19- Explore a 2 Million-Year-Old Cave
- 1.3.20 20- Dive With Dolphins
Oman Travel Guide
Best time to Visit
Winter is a comfortable time of year to enjoy Oman, as the country experiences severe heat and is intensely humid otherwise in summer.
The best time of year to take a trip to Oman is from October to March when temperatures are between 20 and 30C.
Facts about Oman
Ramadan is a festive month of fasting and most restaurants are closed until dusk, so plan accordingly.
Muscat Festival is a month-long period of cultural and musical attractions during January and February.
Weekends in Oman are Friday and Saturday.
Most trips to destinations may require a four-wheel-drive so hire a rental car or book a guided tour.
20 Things To Do In Oman
1- Be Mesmerised By the Scent of Frankincense at Muscat’s Mutrah Souq
The Mutrah Souq is a bustling traditional market filled with the scent of the best Frankincense in the world and rows of gold shops.
The modernised timber wood decorated souq captures the mood of an old Omani market place with the chaotic sounds of the crowd.
Men can shop for a unique Omani cap (kummah) made out of Tanjim embroidery and women can opt for a bold piece of pure silver jewellery.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, pick up a khanjar (Omani dagger) to hang on your wall or around your waist like the Omani men do.
A wide range of antiques, spices, perfumes, Omani wedding chests (Mandoos) and various Omani and Indian items can be purchased for a bargain.
The Mutrah fort sits on top of a hill and was built by the Portuguese in the 1580s. It’s marked by a giant incense burner and fish statue on the way to the Mutrah Harbour.
A twin carriageway-styled grand entrance leads to the Old Muscat city.
At the top of the gate is a museum with exhibits of geology, heritage, history of Oman and its rise since the 1970s.
2- Soak in Bimah Sinkhole or Ayn A’Thowarah Springs
An hour and a half from Muscat, off the highway to Sur (before Tiwi) is the Bimah Sinkhole, which is also known as Hawiyat Najm or Meteor Fall.
The turquoise waters measuring 70m by 50m wide, with depth about 20m just 600m from the sea occurred due to natural limestone erosions.
It’s an ideal place for a mid-day soak to cool down.
A staircase leads to the hole, which is an amazing natural wonder one should not miss.
Another place to take to the waters is the Ayn A’ Thowarah warm springs. The warm waters at 45C is said to cure rheumatism and skin diseases due to its high sulphur content.
3- Enjoy a dhow cruise to the Fjords of Musandam
A dhow trip to Musandam waters is a soul-enriching experience with fresh air and stunning scenery of the Jabel Harim (Mountain of Women) on the Musandam Peninsula.
A dip in the fjord’s crystal-clear waters will cool you down too.
Look out for fossils of ancient seafaring creatures like clams and fish dating back to several million years older along the way.
The highest peak on the peninsula is at about 2087 meters above sea level.
4- Enjoy the lush green scenery at Salalah, the Queen of the South
Take a trip to Salalah, one of Oman’s oldest capitals, a pristine location to enjoy cooler weather in this country of deserts.
The best months to visit Salalah is from June to September.
The valley is green and has lots to offer, including Wadi Darbat, Ain Athum, Ain Khor and Ain Tubrook.
Visit these wadis and gaze at waterfalls.
5- Watch Baby Turtles Hatch
Two hours from Muscat near Sur is Ras Al Jinz, which is the nestling belt for the endangered green sea turtles.
A trip to the beach is a chance to see them hatch and crawl into the waters early at dawn.
The turtles return to where they were born to lay their eggs. Breeding season is between August and October.
Book priority access at the turtle reserve to be one of the first to see the new baby hatchlings.
Passes are limited and the reserve is owned and protected by the Oman government.
6- Take A Walk In A Lush Valley
Darbat valley is green all year round and you can cool down in the Darbat River.
During the wet season, you’ll catch sight of a waterfall.
Visit the ruins of a UNESCO World Heritage site at Sumharam on the lagoon of Khor Rori, an estuary of Wadi Darbat.
Go bird watching to spot the flocks of flamingoes, herons, spoonbills and other wanderers at the lagoon.
Sumharam Archeological site has a small museum and an archeological gallery where you can find out about the remains of an old city.
A visit to Taqa Castle will give you an idea of its unique construction using limestone, corals and fossilised shells.
7- Enjoy The Contrast Of Greenery And Desert At Jabal Samhan
Enjoy lush green vegetation and cascading waterfalls at Wadi Dabart.
Gaze in wonder at the 211 deep Tawi Attair (Well of Birds) sinkhole and one of the largest sinkholes on Earth, Tayq, with a volume of 90 million cubic meters.
The view from the top of Jabal Samhan is amazing, with baobab trees at the picture-perfect Hinae valley.
This scenery can’t be found elsewhere in the Middle East.
Another place to visit in Oman is Al Mughsail Beach, where you will enjoy exploring Marneef Cave and the 800 m high cliff at Shaat View Point.
8- Be Mesmerised by a Grand Masterpiece of Arabian Architecture
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was a gift from the sultan to the nation to mark his 30th year of his long reign and non-Muslims are welcome to visit.
The architectural masterpiece is spread across a vast area and has a 50m dome and five minarets, including one that is 90 m high.
The grandeur of the mosque is magnificent with marble, Arabic calligraphy and Quranic texts with classical Persian and Safavid designs.
Do not miss the 1700 million knot single piece Persian carpet weighing 21 tonnes at the main prayer hall.
600 female weavers from Khurasan in Iran took four years to create it with classical Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan designs.
Entrance to the Mosque is free but remember to wear modest loose clothing covering your arms and legs. Women should also cover their hair inside the Mosque complex.
9- Explore A Fort
Explore 600 Omani forts in the country hopping from one to another, if you are an architecture buff.
The oldest of the forts in Oman is Nizwa Fort and is a highly visited monument with a castle, museum and a fort built in the 17th century.
It took 12 years to build and the 9th-century castle was rebuilt in 1624.
Climb through the circular top of the tower to gaze at the scenic view of the Nizwa Oasis.
Nakhal Fort is a spectacular fort in northwestern Oman, at the edge of Jebel Akhdar Mountains.
Rustaq Fort in the oldest capital of Oman was built during the era of Imam Nasir bin Murshid al Yaarubi before the dawn of Islam, four centuries ago.
The structure is built on three levels and contains an armoury, a place of worship and four towers.
The tallest tower is 18.5 meters tall and 6m in diameter.
10- Visit Jabreen Castle
Explore the 17th-century Jabreen Castle, with its elaborately decorated painted ceilings.
Inside the vast battlements, explore the storage, burial chamber and hidden rooms.
It has extensive falaj (irrigation channels), used as an air conditioning system.
11- Take Dip In A Hot Springs Or Blue Pool
Take a dip in the warm springs at the Nakhal Fort.
The most famous is Ayn A’Thowarah, where the waters are believed to have properties to heal rheumatism and skin diseases.
See the calcite formations at the Wadi Al Abyad, also called the Blue Pools.
12- Explore A Wadi
Wadi bashing is a must when visiting Oman and you can also pair a visit to a fort with a wadi, for example:
- Sumhuram Archaeological Park with Wadi Darbat
- Nakhal Fort with Wadi Al Abyad
- Rass al Hadd on the way to the Bimah Sinkhole
- Wadi Mibam on the coastal way to Sur Village
Take a trip to the famous town of Sur, known for its dhow building yards on the way to the beautiful Wadi Tiwi, a mountain oasis.
Another place to visit is Wadi Shab, meaning a “wadi between the cliffs”. A pair of walking shoes will take you a long way.
If you’re a strong swimmer, Mibam Waterfall is an adventurous spot while exploring the Wadi Mibam, requiring a swim and climb.
Then walk the white sandy beach arriving at Wadi Shab to gaze at ocean views.
13- Eat like an Omani Local
Omani cuisine is delicious and exotic, ranging from Khubs filled with cream cheese and honey to camel meat.
If you love mashed potatoes, you’ll enjoy munching on harees (wheat mixed with meat or chicken cooked to a fine texture blended with spice).
Machboos is a saffron flavoured rice cooked with chicken and similar to a biryani.
Seafood lovers will want to try mashuai, which is a spit-roasted whole kingfish or the kanad served on a bed of lemon flavoured rice with nuts.
Shuawa means grilled meat and is a favourite among the Omanis and is a must-eat dish during Eid (festival season).
Mishkak is charcoal barbequed meat on skewers served with tamarind sauce and eaten as a favourite snack.
Omani halwa and gahwa (or the Arabic coffee with a dash of cardamom and saffron alongside a few dates from the region) will make the whole culinary experience absolutely Arabic.
14- Enjoy the Opera On A Night Tour Of Muscat
Oman’s first opera house was built in Muscat in 2011.
Shimmering in the lights of limestone during the day and glowing in glory during the night, the palatial Opera house stages western ballet, opera and performances by Omani and Arab artists too.
15- Ride A Sand Bike On The Dunes
Rent a sand bike and go dune bashing in the deserts of Oman.
You will be thrilled by the soaring heights of the dunes and a brief visit to the Bedouin settlements in between will be interesting to learn the Omani culture
16- Watch The Sunset Over The Jabal Akhdar Mountain
Drive to the foothills of the Jabal Akhdar mountain range (Jebel Akhdar means “green mountain” has been ranked highly among the 100 best sunset sites in the world.
The limestone mountain in the central region of Hajar mountains is 150 km from Muscat and accessible by four-wheel drive.
Nizwa Fort is not far away and Wadi Nakhr is a deep canyon to visit too.
Jabal Shams has Oman’s highest peak at about 3000 m high and is an amazing spot with natural beauty.
On the way to Jabal Shams, take a peek at the terrace farming village of Wadi Ghul in the Jabal Akhdar range or visit Misfat, an old-styled mountain village with stone housing still intact and functional.
17- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Bahla Fort
For any art lover who enjoys a little bit of history, the 13th-century Bahla Fort is a must to visit.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is cheap to visit (500 Omani baisa) and is a two-hour drive from Muscat or a 35-minute drive from Nizwa.
Bahla Fort is a classic example of a fortified settlement in an oasis, built during the Medieval Islamic period.
The oasis watered the Falaj Well systems and underground channels bringing in water from distant springs.
18- See The Night Sky Camping In The World’s Second-Largest Desert
The Arabic word “Rub Al Khali” translates to “Empty Quarter” is the world’s second-largest desert.
It is about 65000 square kilometres expanding its boundaries to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and parts of the UAE.
The lost city of Ubar dates back to 2800 BC and is part of it.
An overnight stay at the vast desert is the chance to see a million stars in the sky above.
Dune bashing at the Al Haman (Fasad) sand dunes is a unique experience scaling the sands as tall as 200 meters high and watching the smooth sands change colours.
Combining this trip with a visit to Salalah is a good idea.
19- Explore a 2 Million-Year-Old Cave
Located at the foot of Jabal Shams, this show cave in the Arabian Peninsula is marvellous to see.
Running water and staircases lead to key features and an iconic geological museum makes it a unique must-visit place in Oman.
The cave has four lakes and an array of exceptional species like bats, arthropods, molluscs, spiders, snails and water beetles.
Spot Garra Barreimiae (also known as Bu Naseh), the blind Omani cavefish.
20- Dive With Dolphins
Oman has a spectacular 2000 km coastline ideal for diving, snorkelling and marine life spotting.
It is not as famous as the Red Sea but still has many of the same species found there.
Oman’s underwaters are alluring, due to its diversity of species of marine life in the Arabian Sea.
These include more than 20 species of whales and dolphins and soft coral.
1000 km south to Muscat is Mirbat in Dhofar Governate, which has different vegetation and marine life.
The summer monsoon changes this region into a lush green oasis with waterfalls running down from the surrounding mountains.
Mirbat is one of the only places which has both corals and kelp forests.
You can enjoy swimming with dolphins and humpback whales.
Mirbat Dive centres are closed from May to September.
Daymaniyat Islands and Muscat are a heaven of a coral reef so unique to the region.
Looking for more things to do in the Middle East? Read these posts:
- 21 Incredible Landmarks in Egypt
- 20 Things To Do In Dubai
- 8 Things To Do In Jordan With Kids
- 7 Places To Visit In Egypt
- Green Planet Dubai
- Dubai Desert Safari
S. Shahid was born in Tamil Nadu and lived in Chennai. While working in the UAE, he explored many of Oman’s fantastic places. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Annamalai University in Tamil Naidu and has worked as a programmer, analyst and engineer.